“The UK is believed to be the first country to paint post boxes gold to celebrate Olympic and Paralympic gold medal wins…”

Apparently, double gold medal winning, and double world record breaking, Team Ireland Paralympian sprinter, Jason Smyth, would quite like a gold-painted post box in his home town of Eglinton.

According to an earlier Belfast Telegraph report, he would have the support of Dame Mary Peters and the Northern Ireland Sports Minister, Sinn Féin’s Carál Ní Chuilín. 

Although, the Derry Journal report notes that Jason Smyth, at least, was joking.

For Team GB competitors at London 2012, Royal Mail have issued a Gold Medal Winning Stamp for each individual or team Paralympic gold medal win, just as they did for each individual or team Olympic gold medal win, as well as painting a post box gold in the home towns of the gold medallists [wherever possible].  As the Royal Mail Group press release [24 July] noted

  • Some of Royal Mail’s much-loved red post boxes will turn gold this summer to celebrate every Team GB and ParalympicsGB gold medal win
  • The UK is believed to be the first country to paint post boxes gold to celebrate Olympic and Paralympic gold medal wins
  • The gold post boxes will be located in the home towns of the gold medallists wherever possible.  The transformation will happen within days of a gold medal win
  • This will be the first occasion in modern times when Royal Mail has changed the colour of its post boxes. Red has been the standard colour for UK boxes from 1874, with few exceptions

Still, they could always ask An Post…

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  • As a stamp collector myself, I was in the Phialtelic Shop at the GPO last week. There were no plans to issue a stamp in respect of Katie Taylor.
    As a general rule, I am against issuing stamps for living people. It is a very bad precedent to start…….although an Post issued its first stamp in respect of a living person in 1979 for the Visit of Pope John Paul II. Technically most collectors point out that the Centenary of the IRFU stamps featured players who were clearly recognisable. Since 1979, stamps have featured living people such as Ronnie Delaney, Nelson Mandela, Brian Friel, Seamus Heaney, Paul O’Connell, Joey and Robert Dunlop.
    Notwithstanding their contribution to Irish or World Life, recognising achievements while people are still alive is not quite right….for stamp collectors.
    Apart from Royalty, Britain has traditionally avoided living people on stamps….and even the precedents for Royal Weddings has proven a little embarrassing. It is however the Wedding being celebrated rather than the individuals.

    The production of Olympic Gold Medal winning stamps was an amazing technical achievement. It involved a template, computer graphics, three or four places to “print” the stamps in high security conditions and a transport fleet to take the printed stamps to (if I recall correctly) 600 major post offices within 24 hours of the result.
    As it turns out some of these stamps have proven more “popular” than others. With 29 (?) Gold Medallists, I considered it a hostage to fortune and I still consider it something of a “time bomb”.
    I think most stamp collectors would agree with me….but stamp collectors have (quite properly) no special rights. They/We already have too much to say.
    Stamps belong to the people as a whole.

    The issue of Gold Post boxes is I think a joke. Although I re-tweeted Jason Smyths tweet, I think it was tongue in cheek.

  • mollymooly

    Postboxes in most European countries are yellow, so a slight shift to gold would hardly be worth the effort of painting.

  • Seems like a relatively cheap way of celebrating these athletes in their home towns or districts.
    Are there still postboxes in N.I. that are not red?

  • Royal Mail says “No” to Jason’s supporters.

  • I assume that avid sports fanatics would never dream of spray can vandalism 😉

  • GavBelfast

    I can see both points of view here …. and Royal Mail did make it quite clear before-hand that they would do this for any members of TeamGB, in their home town, who won a gold medal.

    Northern Ireland’s Paralympian gold-medallists did not take part for TeamGB.

    On the other hand, the Royal Mail also changed their original own rules with regard to issuing stamps for Paralympian gold-medallists, so there is precedent for Royal Mail Northern Ireland to do something maybe?

    Painting the post-boxes in the three home-towns concerned would be recognition that, while they did no represent TeamGB, they are golds for Northern Ireland, and that is what was done in the rest of the UK.

    It would be a compromise and a nice touch … if the athetes themselves would like it.

  • andnowwhat

    Like Gav, I can see both sides. On one side, they are British citizens competing as the elite of their sport but they are competing for Ireland and against GB.

    That said, of course they should have the phone boxes and should not have to ask for them.

  • Reader

    Mister_Joe: I assume that avid sports fanatics would never dream of spray can vandalism
    One over-enthusiastic fan of Ben Ainslie sprayed a post box in the town he was born, not the town where he lived.
    They can have the gold letterboxes if they also accept the corresponding Royal Mail stamps…
    Actually, I don’t mind either way.

  • uth

    Not surprised. The BBC is another organization that cannot bring themselves to acknowledge the man, although in their case the problem is acknowledging his nationality as “Irish.”

    All manner of devices are used instead eg. “Eglinton Paralympian,” “Eglinton man,” “Londonderry athlete,” “Londonderry sprinter,” “Derry athlete,” etc. “Belfast boxers” Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan suffered a similar fate. All three, nationless people who were representing people of some invisible nation or other.

  • GavBelfast

    Selective hearing and seeing there, uth, I’m afraid.

    Just for topical example, was a documentary about Jason Smyth – which also featured other Team Ireland Paralympians, especially those from Northern Ireland – on BBC NI on Tuesday night, and there was no shortage of references to “Irish” and “Ireland”, as well as other labels, by way of more specific definition or to avoid repetition, throughout.

    (Might be worth your while watching and listening on BBC i-Player, if you can.)

    Really …do people like you just get a kick from making things up or something?

  • BluesJazz


    The documentary just showed a focused guy. Flags and anthems are of little meaning to some people. Maybe (horrors) this is how most people under a certain age -outside the ghettos- feel.

  • BluesJazz

    I didn’t know he was a mormon. Hardly relevant. But as with Eoin Morgan and Ed Joyce even aussieTrent Johnston have shown, where your born is hardly relevant either.
    Top sports stars like Rory McIroy or Kevin Pietersen have a laissez faire attitude to ‘nationality’ .

    Although, i’ve asked before, did anyone figure out where Tony Cascarino emanated from? I’ve heard 7 different countries so far.

  • Alias

    As an aspiring athlete Smyth says his decision to run for Ireland was more practical than it was patriotic.

    “I’m not politically Irish or British, I mean I don’t really care you know,” he explains, sitting in the athletes village. “There’s no saying that if they had come in with something I’d have decided to go with Britain anyway but they made the decision easy. They just didn’t do much about it which made my decision to go for Ireland a lot easier.”

    Smyth’s attitude is very much a user/taker’s attitude – and not one to be commended. Thankfully it is a minority attitude (and seems to afflict those in NI). Most athletes are very proud to be picked to represent their country and grateful for the opportunity it presents to them and for the financial investment by their fellow countrymen. Irish teams seem now to be vulnerable to picking folks who simply see an opportunity to take from the state due to this lamentable all-island agenda. The Irish state should not be acting as a private financier to those who have no sense of loyalty to it or to the nation that finances them.

  • uth

    @GavBelfast please point out where the word “Irish” is used in the broadcast segment you mentioned.

    My hearing is fine, as is my googling, anyone curious to compare what I said to your claims can google “irish” + “jason smyth” + bbc (or utv). There is little deviation between their online and broadcast news output.

    The phrase used in Mondays 10th’s BBC Newsline was even more clunky than usual, along the lines of ‘Team Ireland athletes from Northern Ireland’. Literally any phraseology that vanishes the fact that Team Ireland athletes, self-identify as Irish- not “Northern Irish,” not “from Northern Ireland,” not “Anglo-Irish,” or other reductions, plain old Irish.

  • Reader

    Alias: Smyth’s attitude is very much a user/taker’s attitude – and not one to be commended.
    No – it’s a competitor’s attitude, and perfectly respectable. The team gave him the opportunity, and he rewarded them with his best efforts and (a bonus), a medal to add to the tally.
    Not everyone puts flag waving at the very top of their personal agenda, and it’s nonsense to imagine that an olympian should.

  • sitarman

    Like most everything else here it’s probably politically loaded but i reckon if the athletes are up for it then yeah give them a gold postbox. It’s a good reminder that the town has borne an elite Olympian/Paralympian.

  • babyface finlayson

    the first word in the headline of that report is ‘Irish’.
    Not a very good effort by the Beeb at hiding it.

  • GavBelfast


    “Irish Paralympic team return home to heroes’ welcome”

    Ahem ….


  • Buster79

    Do we not think that one should keep politics out of sport? i
    Surely everyone should be cheering on our brilliant impaired athletes we should spray paint everything gold!! never mind a post box!!
    Power to the people and all that!!